Few Iraqis recognize the organic connection between the mountains of Kurdistan and southern Iraq. Many say that Iraq is an artificial state created by the british. I submit to you that geology supersedes humanity. Before the last Ice Age ended some 11 to 13 thousand years ago, the sea water level was some 450 feet (150 meters) lower than it is today and southern Iraq was a valley carved out the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. With the end of the Ice Age water levels rose and there are theories that postulate that a large land slide occurred from the Zagros Mountains due to increase rains in that time blocking the path of the Tigris and Euphrates and creating an inner delta which caused the deposition of the soils that come with the waters of Tigris and Euphrates from the mountains of Kurdistan creating the plain of southern mesopotamia. Another theory says that there were alluvial fans from Kargh and Karoon rivers as well ask another fan from the Najad highlands that actually blocked the path of the Tgris and Euphrates. Regardless of which theory is right, there is no disputing the fact that the soils of southern Iraq are actually soils from the mountains of Kurdistan!!! So beware, disputed territories can go all the way to the tip of the Fao ;)
This is food for thought for those who are concerned with nature of Iraq as a country and the connection between the Kurds and Arabs of Iraq. We Arabs need to recognize the contribution of Kurdistan (be it people or nature) to the civilization of the south and the fact that if we are what we eat, we are all connected to Kurdistan by virtue of our need for the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. The Kurds also need to understand that the easiest way to export their oil is through southern Iraq. Yet I meet many Arabs from southern iraq who resent the Kurdish dominance in the politics of todays’ Iraq and of course the reverse is true. I meet many Kurds who are resentful of the way the Arabs have treated Kurdistan in modern Iraq.
Until we all recognize that we are partners in this land called Iraq and that the south of Iraq needs Kurdistan’s contribution as much ad the Kurdish people need the south of Iraq, we are not going to have stability in this country. Moreover, in an increasingly globalized world, I am one of those who have bought into the vision that Barham Salih, current Prime Minister of KRG, has expressed about the future of the region. He is quoted as saying in 50 years, there will not be boundaries in this region but rather we will create a region based on economic well being and trade. There will not be an Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, jordan, Israel, etc. Rather there will be regions that are trading together and forming a common market, ala the European Common Maket that developed into the European Union. We should make sure that those of us who live in Mesopotamia (and that has the Arabs of Iraq, and the Kurds of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey) have the economic strength of Germany in todays’ European Union.
I know, I know… You are all shaking your heads and saying this is an impossible dream, but I am one who does not believe anything is impossible if there is will… You all have to choose if you want to live in the past or work for a better future for yourselves and your children and grandchildren.
Dr. Azzam Alwash is the Director of the Eden Again Project. Born in Kut, Iraq in 1958, he spent much of his younger years in Nasseriya on the fringes of the marshlands. He left Iraq in 1978 as a result of the Baathist regime and completed his Bachelor of Science (Civil Engineering) and his PhD in Geotechnical Engineering in California. Where he subsequently he worked as a soils engineering consultant for 20 years. He is on the Board of Directors of the Iraq Foundation and the Iraqi Forum for Democracy. In August 2003, Azzam took a leave of absence from his consultancy practice to direct the Eden Again operations in Iraq. His inspirational work in reviving the marshes has been the subject of international praise and documentaries. He now divides his time between Baghdad, the marshlands, and international speaking engagements.